Consumer Perception of Animal Welfare and Livestock Production in the Araucania Region, Chile

Berta Schnettler M.1*, Ricardo Vidal M.2, Roberto Silva F.1, Lisette Vallejos C.1 and Néstor Sepúlveda B.2

Given the importance of animal welfare (AW) in developed countries, a survey was carried out among 384 consumers in Temuco, Chile, to establish their knowledge and perceptions about animals handling during production, to detect preferences for meat produced under AW principles, their willingness to pay a higher price for this and to distinguish different consumer segments. Approximately 60% of people surveyed knew about livestock management practices, half of them considered that these practices had a negative effect on the animals, but only 32.1% have changed their meat consumption habits due to this. Seventy percent of the people surveyed had over 50% of knowledge about AW aspects. There is a strong preference and willingness to pay a higher price for meat produced under AW principles. Consumers have a positive perception of the fact that the meat that they consume comes from pasture-fed animals, raised in the open, and raised, transported and slaughtered following humane principles. Three segments were identified by using cluster analysis: the most numerous (58.6%) considers confinement and feeding with concentrates as positive; the second group (25.5%) showed a strong rejection of the use of hormones, feeding with broiler litter and concentrates, and places a positive value on raising animals in the open. The smallest segment (15.4%) placed the highest value on humane treatment of the animals, plus a positive value on concentrates use and rejected confined raising. The conclusion is that a large part of the population perceives AW as a desirable condition when purchasing beef.

Keywords: animal welfare, market segmentation, cluster analysis.
1 Universidad de La Frontera, Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Forestales, Casilla 54-D, Temuco, Chile. E-mail: bschnett@ufro.cl *Author for correspondence.
2 Universidad Austral de Chile, Instituto de Ciencia Animal y Tecnología de Carnes, Casilla 567, Valdivia, Chile.